Experiencing the less-than-taboo adult trade show
// Sarah Vitet

I have never felt more horrified by audience participation than while watching the live demo for The Bondage Bed. A spry 40-yearold female volunteer was tied by her ankles and dry humped in a variety of poses while a crowd of strangers watched and laughed. Clad legs spread-eagled, lying on her back; I sure hoped she was having a good experience.

The host of the demonstration, Jonathan Dickenson, kept the crowd happy with jokes while doing his best to include the woman underneath him in the fun. There were definitely moments of awkwardness, namely when he pulled her ankles together and thrust towards her g-spot; or when he stated, “I’m a force man, myself,” and then began explaining a different position. In all, though, it was nothing if not an impacting sales pitch. How does someone get a job doing live demos at consumer sex conventions? For Dickenson, his mom owned the company, so he says it was a natural course once he came of age. He’s been doing it for seven years now, and you’d never guess the man dry-humping a woman on stage used to fear public speaking. “I hated it,” he says. “It turns out I’m just really good at this kind of public speaking. I don’t know, I’ve got the right personality for it, or something.” Watching him on stage, I couldn’t help but wonder if mishaps ever happened during the demos. Although it’s not a very erotic scenario, it still seemed like it might be hard to not get turned on … if the audience volunteer were particularly enthusiastic? Although the main problem, says Dickenson, are the angry boyfriends he faces, he admits the performances sometimes get lively. “I had this girl, her name was Button; she was a performer\ and had seen my demo a couple of times and wanted to try it out, and I think she liked the attention up on stage. She got right into it,” says Dickenson. “Honestly, normally I’m just going through the motions because it’s a performance, but when I get a particularly attractive woman there who is really getting into it … it’s hard to keep that line straight. Even I go a little red in the face. Generally those make the 
best demos, anyway, because the crowd just eats that stuff up.”
Walking around the Taboo, I was interested to see a lot of non-sex related booths. There were at least three marijuana accessory vendors, a couple of soap/lotion booths, a few body modification booths (doing both real and temporary tattoos, and piercings), and a booth selling clipping hair feathers. While sex might be better when you’re stoned, moisturized, pierced, inked, and beautified, it did begin to look more like a mall on the bad side of town than a sex-oriented consumer show. Nobody was even selling any buttbongs or dildo-pipes. There was no shortage of products relating to human genitals, though. From softcore nude photographs and anal bleach kits, to sex wedges and countless varieties of personal lubricant, if you didn’t know exactly what you needed, it would be easy to spend a lot of money. God help the women who attended looking to buy a vibrator. In terms of buying sex toys and the various other accoutrements, a good policy is to support your local sex-positive stores whenever possible. Local stores of all kinds struggle to stay competitive against Internet undercutting and shoddy knock-offs, so if you want the local shops to stay in business, it’s always a good idea to support them, even when it means a slightly higher price tag. That being said, I was excited to see what new products and deals Taboo had to offer. Unfortunately, shopping at Taboo wasn’t all that exciting. First of all, the prices did not appear to be at all discounted, which for some reason surprised me. Even when a deal looked really good, like two glass dildos for $50 (or $40 for one), there was always a reason for me to hesitate. I don’t need two glass dildos, and if I wanted one I could get it for a similar price at a local store, in a wider variety of styles. The convention was buzzing with sales pressure, though it was somewhat alleviated by the employees in sexy outfits. Although there were many lovely women walking around doing their jobs, the majority of the crowd was comprised of larger middle-aged couples wearing dazed smiles, wandering around picking up toys more commonly found in the least sex-positive porn shops (meaning: brands I wouldn’t trust to put inside a vagina or anus). There were a couple of trustworthy companies on display (such as We Vibe, Lelo and Jimmyjane), though I could only find limited models. The space itself felt quite sex-positive, despite the odd creepy loner man; people of all shapes and sizes were represented in playful latex and coloured mesh outfits. “You see people in the oddest kinds of getups,” says Dickenson. “Like last night, we had a bunch of furries here.” The room itself, however, lacked ambiance. Held at the Convention centre in what basically amounted to a giant room, the lighting was dimmed, making it hard to focus on any one thing and easy to feel sleepy (much like bedtime sex when the lights are off). Each day of the conference offered to teach you basic bondage, anal, and dirty talk, as well as ways to generally improve your sex life in the period of an hour or so. There was also a main stage with various entertainment acts. I watched a burlesque dancer from the Razzle Tazzle Tease Show do a carnival-esque creepy/sexy dance in a dress made entirely from yellow dish gloves (for those rubber chicken fetishists).
One of the few local stores present was Little Sister's, who have a location on Davie street in Vancouver. They were sharing the booth with another local store, Sweet Adult Boutique. Little Sisters is a strong local advocate for both gay pride and freedom of information, and in 2000 they even went as far as the Supreme Court of Canada to fight against Canadian Customs’ right to censor literature at the border. “With ample obscenity legislation in place within Canada,” says the Little Sister’s website, “the delicate decision making process of what material is allowed and what is banned in this country should not be left to whims of Customs officers.” I was glad to see at least one prominent Vancouver sex toy retailer represented at Taboo. The Little Sister's booth was by far the most diverse in terms of gender as well as apparent sexual orientation. As I’d been wondering how it felt to be dressed revealingly all day in such a public environment, I was happy for the opportunity to talk to Sydney Gregoire, who was helping Little Sister's out for the show. “It’s been wonderful,” she assures me right away. “I guess there are a lot of people who are stepping outside of their comfort zone this weekend and it’s been really nice to be able to experience that with them … People are taking pictures of my butt, but I’m still not offended by it! This is a nice, comfortable, honest place. I think it’s the moment I walk out of that door and it’s not the same mentality as it is in here, then I feel awkward outside.”

Fun Facts!
-Taken from the Taboo show guide
-2/3 of people kiss with their eyes closed
-30% of men say they orgasm too soon
-1 in 10 women have never had an orgasm
-1 in 10 women regularly have multiple orgasms
-An average person spends two weeks of their life kissing
-The average speed of ejaculation is 20mph

//Sarah Vitet, editor-in-chief
//Graphics by Tyler Hughes

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com